What is a chaplain? Well, the Los Alamos County Volunteer Chaplain Corp acts as a ministry of presence during a crisis. They are a non-sectarian group dedicated to helping those who need them when they are called.
The local chaplain group works in affiliation with the Los Alamos police and fire departments. These chaplains may be called to assist community members, visitors, firefighters, police officers, dispatchers or other emergency responders.
Chaplains are contacted through the 911 Emergency Center, which contacts the chaplain on call when needed. Chaplains also may be asked to offer prayers during promotion or retirement ceremonies, funerals, formal gatherings or officiate weddings.
The County’s newest ordained senior Chaplain is Lindsay Baca. She works at Aspen Ridge Lodge, which graciously allows her to respond to call outs during her shift.
“I became a chaplain to help our community and our first responders,” Baca told the Los Alamos Daily Post. “With the guidance from chaplains Jenn Bartram and Donna McHenry and our training with the Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT) by Dr. Elizabeth Maines … I know I will be successful.”
Bartram and McHenry are ordained senior chaplains certified to officiate at weddings and funerals. Many of the local chaplains are ordained through the International Fellowship of Chaplains (IFOC). McHenry also serves as EMS Training coordinator for the Los Alamos Fire Department.
With the help of a generous donation from the United Church Thrift Store, the Los Alamos County Chaplain Corp was recently formed under the 501c3 of the IFOC. The organization has approximately 10 people now working toward their accreditation as chaplains.
How do Chaplains help Los Alamos?
“Our most frequent call out is for unattended deaths,” Bartram explained. “We act as a liaison between the police and fire departments and the Office of Medical Examiners and the families. We also help the grieving loved ones navigate the process that occurs at the time of a death.”
The local chaplains also offer peer support for emergency responders, she said. The Chaplains helped to organize the “Every 15 Minutes” alcohol and texting prevention program several years ago at Los Alamos High School.
“Our group also has partnered with the Behavioral Response Team from Los Alamos National Laboratory managed by Dr. Maines to offer monthly training for our teams,” Bartram said.
The Los Alamos County Volunteer Chaplain Corp is in the process of raising money to support its members with uniforms, vests and other much needed items to enable them to provide their important services to community members and first responders.
An account has been set up at Del Norte Credit Union for people to donate to the Los Alamos County Chaplains Corp 501c3.